Legal action following failure to provide information regarding risks of surgery and consent a patient to laser eye surgery.
In early 2014 our Client received several emails from Optical Express (OE) offering laser eye surgery, guaranteeing a 99% success rate or better. Our client called OE and received a brochure through the post within days; this prompted her to explore her potential laser options.
Our client attended OE in Croydon, Woolwich House on 22 March 2014 for her initial consultation. Tests were performed by Jay Bhatt and she made him aware of the fact that she underwent laser eye surgery over a decade ago in St Petersburg, Russia. Our client went on to explain that her main motivation for laser eye surgery was to be contact lens and glasses-free. Our client was told that she would have amazing eyesight, 20/20 vision or better by the advisor and that she would be able to throw her contact lens/glasses away.
Our client initially paid for iDesign LASIK surgery at the cost of £3290 but was refunded £800 and told that she did not need LASIK surgery but was perfectly suitable for LASEK surgery. The change of procedure was not explained to her. She was not informed of the risks of the LASEK surgery and did not watch any videos at OE relating to the surgery.
On 28 March 2014, Our client underwent bilateral LASEK surgery which was performed by Dr Manek Patel at OE in Harley Street. The laser platform used was VISX Star S4. Upon arriving for her appointment and minutes before she was due to be operated upon, she was given a clipboard, pen and a form. She states that she was not given sufficient time to read the form properly and felt hurried to read and sign. Our client adds that she was not given the opportunity to ask any questions.
Our client is adamant that Dr Manek Patel did not mention anything about risks or complications, dry eye syndrome, double vision or anything along those lines before and during the procedure. Dr Manek Patel did not go through the consent form with our Client before the procedure. In fact, once she has signed it and returned it to the receptionist, she never saw it again.
After the procedure, Dr Manek Patel added band-aid to her eyes. Our client recalls that she could barely see after the procedure, but once the band-aid was applied this made things worse. Her left eye was in considerable pain and whilst her right eye did not hurt as much, her sight was badly impaired. After the procedure, Elizabeth Vourazeri reviewed her and performed a refraction check, our Client was astonished at how impaired her eyesight was, she had to be guided through the building to the waiting area where her friend was waiting.
On 29 March 2014, Our client was reviewed by Jay Bhatt for her post one-day procedure review. Her friend took her there as a guide as she could not see properly and he lent her his dark glasses to wear as the daylight hurt her eyes. Jay Bhatt reassured and told her that everything went well and her eyes just needed time to heal.
On 1 April 2014, Our client attended OE in Shaftesbury Avenue and was reviewed by Farah Mawji. Her eyesight was tested, Our client claims that she did not have 20/20 vision that she had been promised and was really upset at this point. She could not read the letters on the eye examining chart properly and noticed that her vision, especially in her left eye was ghosting, almost like she had double vision. She was given some more eye drops and told to use them as prescribed again.
On 9 April 2014, Our client attended OE in Shaftesbury Avenue where she was reviewed by Vicky Roberts. Our client explained to Vicky Roberts that her eyes were always hurting and that she appeared to have dry eyes, ghosting and double vision. Vicky Roberts said that her eyes were still healing from the LASEK procedure and it would take a few weeks before her eyes finally settled. Vicky Roberts gave Our client even more medication/eye drops and advised her that things would improve over time.
On 24 April 2014 Our client attended OE in Croydon, Woolwich House and was seen by Karandeep Bajwa. She explained that she was very unhappy with the results and was in constant pain. She explained that she could not see close up, like she used to just before she underwent the LASEK procedure. Again, she was told that her eyes were healing and that they were settling.
At this appointment, the optometrist tested her eyes and ordered her a pair of reading glasses which left her devastated. She adds that her talent was ripped away in a procedure that took a matter of minutes. Our client underwent laser eye surgery to rid herself of glasses and contact lenses. She did not expect that she would need to wear reading glasses after her laser treatment. Prior to the procedure, she could see minute details two inches away from her eyes. Now she had lost her specialised ability to draw. She was so upset. This was the first time that she discovered that she could be ‘long-sighted’ after the procedure, she had always been advised that she would be glasses-free. She eventually picked up the glasses from OE, Croydon and tried them on, but she still could not achieve the close-up vision that she had before, even with the aid of the reading glasses, and claims that they were useless. This made her feel even more devastated.
By this point Our client was distraught, the optometrists at OE kept telling her that her eyes were healing and they would settle soon. Our client asked her GP to refer her for a second opinion. Her GP referred her to the Moorfields Eye Hospital, where she was seen by Dr R Angurnawela on 30 October 2014. Here she complained about the pain, double vision, the glare, the lack of night time vision, halos, starbursts, styes, chalazions and all the other physical complications that she was suffering from. She made him aware of the fact that she had a burning and stinging sensation in her eyes after she underwent the laser procedure. She was told by Dr Romesh Angurnawela that she had a dry eye disease and that she was marked with meibomian gland dysfunction with poorly expressible meibomian glands and an unstable tear duct.
On 22 December 2014, Our client was reviewed by Vincent Laiw at OE in Croydon, Woolwich House. She explained that she was very unhappy with her vision, the regression, the constant pain, the double vision, especially surrounding her night time vision, despite being prescribed with numerous lubricants and eye drops from OE and the Moorfields Eye Hospital. OE maintained their advice: her eyes were healing and would settle in time. She was given yet another eye test, prescribed more medication and eye drops. By this stage, she had a huge carrier bag full of eye drops and varying medications.
On 21 February 2015, Our client was examined at OE in Harley Street by Ms Sheetal Patel. She made her aware again of the fact that she was experiencing a lot of discomfort, glare, halos, double vision and dry eye syndrome. She stated that her eyes felt like they had grit in them. She also made Ms Patel aware of the fact that she was constantly applying eye drops. She informed Ms Patel that her left eye was particularly bad, particularly in the mornings when she had to peel her left eyelid off her eyeball, due to the dryness and a pus like residue seeping from the corner and tear duct of her eye. This confirmed that this had been going on since the LASEK procedure with OE. Ms Patel reassured her that things would improve in time.
Our client sought advice from her previous optician, Dr Kerr. Dr Kerr stated that OE had not served her well. He prescribed her new spectacles as her eyesight had regressed to her original prescription and she could no longer drive her car legally without the aid of glasses. Unfortunately, the glasses did not correct her double vision, astigmatism, impaired night time vision, halos, starbursts, glare or alleviate her constant headaches, due to her eye strain.
On the 7 March 2015, Our client was again reviewed by Jay Bhatt at OE in Croydon. He was aware that she had been using numerous eye drops. She explained that the problems she was suffering were not improving but were in fact worsening. Her eyes were really dry, especially in the mornings. In addition, she explained that she was losing the ability to drive at night due to the severe glare, dark blindness, halos, starbursts mainly from the streetlights and headlights coming from the oncoming traffic, her impaired night time vision and the inability to decipher the kerb from the road.
On 17 March, 2015, Our client was examined by Jonathon Carr at OE in Harley Street. He was aware that she had numerous eye drops and lubricants and understood that she was in a predicament. Dr Carr advised that the realistic goal for treatment would be to reduce the lubrication burden that she was facing daily as her eyes healed. However, Our client was concerned about the effects of her eyes if they were left to be dry. Dr Carr prescribed future eye drops.
Our client made Dr Carr aware that she was still suffering from dryness in both eyes and was not able to use her computer for long periods and she was constantly in pain. Her eyes felt as if they were bulging with a burning sensation. At this point, she had no choice but to enquire about getting contact lenses, because the glasses were not really helping. She was told that the ocular surface on her eyes has changed and that she may not be able to wear lenses. OE supplied her with a trial set of contact lenses but unfortunately, the lenses were uncomfortable due to the changed ocular surface of her eyes. The surface of her eyes had been flattened slightly by the surgery and she had lost that natural curve whereby the lenses could not fit comfortably.
The client had worked within the police service since the age of 20 and age the age of 52 was forced to find alternative employment. As a result of the difficulties with vision the only position she could find was as a teaching assistant resulting in a drop of income in excess of £30,000 a year.